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Prioritize boating safety to prevent accidents

National Safe Boating Week is May 21-27, 2016, serving as a reminder to all recreational boaters to take precautions to prevent boating accidents this summer. People who plan to operate watercraft or ride along as a passenger should be aware of basic important safety measures that could mean the difference between life and death. 

Boat operators:

  • Never operate a watercraft while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
  • Operate the boat at a safe speed.
  • Observe right-of-way rules.
  • Don't overload your boat.
  • Make sure you have enough proper U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets available for every person on board. Life jackets should be appropriate to the planned activity. 

Boat passengers:

  • Wear your life jacket, even if you consider yourself to be a strong swimmer. 
  • Carry your cell phone in case of an emergency.
  • If your boat capsizes, try to stay with the boat, climb on top of it or re-enter the boat while waiting for help. 

If you are injured by another boater who was operating his or her craft while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, speak to a lawyer to discuss whether a lawsuit might help to secure compensation to pay for your medical bills and other expenses related to the accident. Drinking while boating is against the law and subject to criminal penalties. However, you would need to file a civil suit to recover compensation for your injuries. 

While boating under the influence is a major problem on the water, many injuries--including those not related to alcohol--could be prevented through proper life jacket use. Before you embark on a boat ride, make sure: 

  • The boat has enough life jackets. 
  • Everybody's life jacket fits property.
  • The life jackets are suited to the activity in which you are about to engage. 

Preventing a boating accident, of course, is preferable to dealing with lawyers and hospitals after the fact. But if you do find yourself injured through someone else's negligence, do not hesitate to get the legal help you need to secure the maximum possible settlement you deserve. 

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